Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin Announce $1.25 Million Plan to Expand Auto Import & Offshore Wind Capacity at Quonset
Federal funding - to be matched by QDC -- will help boost growth potential for RI’s auto imports/exports and offshore wind sectors
QUONSET, RI – In an effort to help create jobs and increase Rhode Island’s port capacity, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative James Langevin today announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award a new $625,000 federal grant to increase shore-side capacity at the Port of Davisville. The federal funding will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) for a total of $1.25 million to expand the port’s capacity for additional automobiles, project cargo, and offshore wind components.
Specifically, this funding will help pave and stripe Terminal 5, which covers over 13 acres. Currently, the terminal is covered in gravel and is not suitable for importing vehicles because of dust, grit, and a lack of delineated storage areas. The additional paved space will provide more capacity and operational flexibility, particularly on days when two ships are in port. QDC estimates that the project will generate an estimated 30 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced) within five years.
This EDA funding comes on the heels of previous EDA investments in the port, including a $1.6 million project to install new marine hardware to allow the port to more fully utilize Terminals 4 and 5. Reed, Whitehouse, and Langevin also helped secure $6 million in EDA funding for Quonset in 2012 to help make upgrades and repairs related to storm damage caused by Hurricane Irene, as well as a $3.88 million EDA award to improve access to 145 acres of land in the Commerce Park District by building a connector road and bridge over a major rail and road right-of-way.
“I am proud to help deliver this federal grant to upgrade the Port of Davisville’s infrastructure so we can create jobs and increase the potential for future economic growth. I am committed to modernizing our port infrastructure and creating good-paying, sustainable jobs here in Rhode Island. We want to ensure our ports are well-positioned to compete, and this investment will help ensure Terminal 5 is ship shape, efficient, and ready to accommodate more vehicles and offshore wind business,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who wrote a letter in support of the QDC’s application. Reed noted that over the last several decades, the federal government has made significant investments in upgrading the Port of Davisville, including $182 million to improve the highway (Route 403); $55 million for the Freight Rail Improvement Project (FRIP) to provide a meaningful rail connection to the port; and a $22.3 million TIGER grant for a crane and additional infrastructure that can support short sea shipping and the staging and assembly of offshore wind components, as well as the port’s growing roll-on/roll-off business.
“The bustling Port of Davisville is a powerhouse of Rhode Island’s economy, and I’m proud to support its continued growth,” said Senator Whitehouse, who wrote a letter in support of the QDC’s application and hosted the head of the EDA, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, for a tour of Quonset last year. “Upgrading Quonset’s infrastructure will position local businesses to import more automobiles and capitalize on the growing offshore wind energy industry. The EDA has a track record of making smart investments in our state, and I’m grateful for their partnership as we continue to create jobs and grow our economy.”
“The Port of Davisville is a gateway for commerce and economic growth in Quonset and across Rhode Island, and this investment will make port infrastructure even more attractive to businesses looking to access the northeast and the entire eastern seaboard,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “In addition to the short-term construction jobs created from the project, this lays the foundation for further growth in Quonset, which continues to be a bright spot in Rhode Island’s economy.”
Steven J. King, Managing Director for the Quonset Development Corporation said, “We are extremely grateful to the Economic Development Administration for their continued investment at the Quonset Business Park and the Port of Davisville. Their support combined with the efforts of the entire Rhode Island congressional delegation have helped Quonset become a leading engine of economic development and job growth for Rhode Island. This grant will help us expand the capability of the Port of Davisville and support additional business opportunities.”
The Port of Davisville is a top ten port in North America for finished vehicle imports and is a gateway to markets throughout Southern New England. The Port is well positioned to increase capacity for small and medium commercial vessels, barges, offshore supply vessels and is a key location for the staging and transport of components for the offshore wind industry.
Thanks to decades of investment, the Port of Davisville continues to break its auto import records. Last year, longshoremen and employees at North Atlantic Distribution offloaded nearly 270,000 vehicles at the port, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year. Of those imports, 227,000 cars arrived by ship, and another 42,150 vehicles arrived by rail and truck.
QDC projects that auto imports will continue to grow 4 percent annually through 2021.
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